Revealed: Billboard's 2017 Indie Power Players, Led by Big Machine's Scott Borchetta

The 51 masters of the independent music business, led by the California-born owner of race cars -- who has driven Taylor Swift and Florida George Line up the charts.

 

EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR

SCOTT BORCHETTA, 55
President/CEO, Big Machine Label Group

Two years ago, the possibility of an honor as Billboard's indie executive of the year was almost off the table for Borchetta.

While the Burbank, Calif., native was the owner of Big Machine Label Group -- the prerequisite for recognition as an independent -- he was actively seeking a buyer for the company that he launched in Nashville 12 years ago this September. Apple, Snapchat, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment were reportedly among those interested in the House That Scott Built, offering $185 million to $200 million, sources said.

But instead of selling, Borchetta decided to renew his distribution agreement with Universal Music Group. Under that deal, he picked up full ownership of Republic Nashville (Big Machine's sister label under UMG distribution, of which BMLG already owned 50 percent). And he doubled down on the entrepreneurial spirit that has made superstars of BMLG acts like Taylor Swift, Florida Georgia Line and Thomas Rhett.

Scott Borchetta

“It made sense for us to control the direction of  our artists,” says Borchetta.Wesley Mann for Big Machine Label Group

Borchetta expresses "the utmost respect, admiration and spirit of partnership" for his major-label colleagues: UMG chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge, executive vp Michele Anthony, Republic Records chairman/CEO Monte Lipman and Republic president/COO Avery Lipman.

"They continue to treat us like family, but they give us enough rope to be us," he says of BMLG's continued independence. "It just made more sense for us to be able to control our direction with all our artists."

Borchetta (who says his 20-car collection, including race cars, is the "biggest splurge" for himself and wife Sandi), says BMLG now is "transitioning at 200 miles per hour, to go from a physical-based content company to a digital-based company." The car analogy is apt for the auto enthusiast.

Since June 2016, BMLG has landed multiple acts atop the Country Airplay chart, including Rhett, Florida Georgia Line and breakout Brett Young -- his first. Tim McGraw (who recently moved from BMLG to Sony) also scored three top three hits, and newcomers Midland and Carly Pearce had top 10 and top 20 hits, respectively. Not bad for a label that hasn't had new product from Taylor Swift in nearly three years.

"It never gets easier to break a new act," says Borchetta. "When you look at the traction Brett Young, Carly Pearce, Midland have -- the artist development curve is a constant. It's not anything where we ever lean back and go, 'OK, we're good.' " -- Andrew Hampp

 

DISTRIBUTORS

TIFFANY PHILLIPS COUCH, 46
Director of sales, Select-O-Hits

JOHNNY PHILLIPS, 69
Co-owner/Vice president, Select-O-Hits

Select-O-Hits is a family affair with quite the pedigree. It was founded in 1960 by Sam Phillips of Sun Records, the first man to record Elvis Presley, and his brother Tom. Now Tom's son, Johnny Phillips, and his brother Skip Phillips run the firm, while Skip's daughter Tiffany Couch heads sales. Select-O-Hits still does substantial distribution for CDs and vinyl for major retailers like Amazon and Walmart, as well as dealing directly with 750 independent record shops. But Couch says the work of "upgrading and updating our digital systems" is the company's priority, with digital sales accounting for 60 percent of its revenue in the past year.

 

AMY DIETZ, 47
Executive vp/GM, INgrooves

"The definition of a distribution company is changing rapidly," says Dietz, a Minneapolis native. "It's no longer about getting things from Point A to Point B." INgrooves, with minority ownership by Universal Music Group, has made investments under Dietz in music discovery, customer engagement, data mining and new tools for marketing and royalty accounting for its client base of independent labels. Those moves have paid off for legacy artists like Tech N9ne and Joe Bonamassa, and rising acts like Young M.A, whose new album, Herstory, has earned 176,000 units since its release in April, according to Nielsen Music.

 

PIERO GIRAMONTI, 52 // JACQUELINE SATURN
GMs; Caroline, Harvest Records

Asked how she and Giramonti, both GMs of Harvest Records, adjusted to also running distributor Caroline, the independent services division of Capitol Music Group, Saturn responds that it was like tackling Los Angeles' famous Culver City Stairs. "You can't skip a step; that's how I've looked at this entire experience," she recalls of their late-2015 appointment. "It's no secret we were given a whole different job, so there was certainly a learning curve." But the climb has been worth it. The two have continued Caroline's commitment to artists including Halsey, whose sophomore album, hopeless fountain kingdom, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in June. "We want to focus on the best possible music and working with the best possible [label] partners," adds Giramonti.

 

BOB MORELLI, 62
President, RED Music

Under Morelli, RED Distribution in 2016 had the largest market share of all independent distributors (3.96 percent), moving albums like Kelsea Ballerini's chart-topping debut, The First Time. In June, Sony Music Entertainment announced the merger of the two indie distributors that it owns, RED and The Orchard, under the Orchard brand. Morelli, a New York native, says he has made a "seamless shift" to head RED Music, which offers label services, marketing and radio promotion to indie labels. He's also guiding Sony joint ventures with artist-owned labels.

Morelli (left) with independent country artist Sara Evans in April.

Morelli (left) with independent country artist Sara Evans in April.Morgan Katz

 

BRAD NAVIN, 46
CEO, The Orchard

COLLEEN THEIS, 48
COO, The Orchard

Under the leadership of Navin and Theis, and with the backing of owner Sony Music, The Orchard has grown into the largest indie distributor, with a global presence and revenue Billboard estimates at $500 million. In the last year, The Orchard has absorbed its sister indie distribution company RED, as well as three European distributors. "We have been planning for this for a while; it is obviously a big responsibility," says Navin. Making sure all client labels continue to get top-shelf service during this transition is Theis' task. "We need to have a global focus and market locally," she says, "to make sure that every release gets to market and has the level of attention that it needs."

 

ELIAH SETON, 35
President, Alternative Distribution Alliance Worldwide

A global deal with BMG and the expansion of Q Prime's pact to include Metallica's recent No. 1 album, Hardwired... To Self-Destruct, helped Alternative Distribution Alliance, under Seton, increase its U.S. market share by 18 percent in the past year. For ADA, which is owned by Warner Music Group, such growth affords the "opportunity to invest in the future," says Seton, a Brooklyn resident. With the future including voice-activated speakers like Amazon's Echo, Seton is "super psyched" those devices are drawing fans of ADA's adult-leaning genres into music streaming.

 

GHAZI SHAMI, 40
CEO, EMPIRE

Since launching EMPIRE in 2010 as an independently owned distributor, Shami has watched music streaming emerge as a game-changer for the indie hip-hop community. The Bay Area native points to Fat Joe and Remy Ma's "All the Way Up," a No. 5 hit on Hot Rap Songs in June 2016, and D.R.A.M.'s "Broccoli," which reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 last November, as being among EMPIRE's notable recent successes. He forecasts that "Broccoli" will be "our first song ever to reach 1 billion streams across all platforms."

Shami (left) joined Snoop Dogg in the studio in March.

Shami (left) joined Snoop Dogg in the studio in March.Courtesy of Ghazi Shami

 

DEAN TABAAC
Head, AMPED Distribution; Alliance Entertainment

AMPED picked up over 40 labels after Entertainment One Music closed its physical distribution arm in October. Yet even before these companies were acquired, AMPED had revenue grow 25 percent during its fiscal year ending June 30, reports Tabaac, who is based in Delray Beach, Fla. AMPED offers digital distribution through Kobalt's streaming label AWAL, but expertise in physical sales remains its strong suit. "We work nimbly and quickly," says Tabaac. "If someone says, 'We need to get this out in two weeks,' we will get it done in two weeks."

 

LABELS & PUBLISHERS

GLEN BARROS, 51
COO, Concord Bicycle Music

SCOTT PASCUCCI, 58
CEO, Concord Bicycle Music

TOM WHALLEY
Chief label officer, Concord Music Group

JAKE WISELY, 47
CEO, The Bicycle Music Company

Concord Bicycle Music's acquisition in June of Imagem Music Group, in a deal reportedly valued at $600 million, has reshaped the independently owned recording/publishing company. "It's hard to top a massive acquisition that doubles your size," says Barros, a 22-year veteran of Concord. Pascucci adds that the deal, which gives Concord control of copyrights by composers from Rodgers & Hart to Justin Timberlake, "dramatically increases our publishing business and gives us a significant presence in London and Berlin," two global music capitals. Under Wisely, Bicycle Music becomes the sixth-largest music publisher with the inclusion of Imagem's copyrights, and also has added administration of Andrew Lloyd Webber's and George Harrison's Harrisongs catalogs. Whalley's role gives him oversight of the company's record labels: Fantasy, Fearless, Concord, Rounder, Razor & Tie and Whalley's own Loma Vista Recordings. Concord Music Group is home to veteran artists such as Paul Simon and James Taylor, as well as younger stars St. Vincent and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real. "We are creating a real destination for independent-minded artists who feel empowered to follow their own instincts," says Whalley.

 

KEN BUNT, 47
President, Disney Music Group

With 1.2 million followers, the Disney Hits playlist is the biggest non-Spotify-owned playlist on the streaming service, with Disney Music stars like Sabrina Carpenter and Sofia Carson driving that digital traffic. "We're constantly moving songs up and down, and adding new songs and focusing on what's working and what's not," says Bunt, a California native and a father of two. The playlist draws from Disney repertoire including the Moana soundtrack, which reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 in January, while music from Descendants debuted at No. 6 on the Aug. 12 Billboard 200.

 

TAYLOR CHILDRESS, 37
Vice president/GM, The Curb Group

Curb's acquisition of a majority stake in Word Entertainment from Warner Music Group in early 2016 was more than a vote of confidence for Word's Christian repertoire, says Childress, whose label has a history of success in both country and contemporary Christian music. "Any time an indie label can make an aggressive move to grow catalog and increase size, it's a win for all indie labels," says the Nashville father of two. This summer, Curb artist Dylan Scott's "My Girl" hit No. 3 on Hot Country Songs and cracked the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100. "We knew what we had," says Childress, "and did not let up."

 

JON COHEN, 48
Executive VP U.S. Recorded Music, BMG

ZACH KATZ, 46
President of U.S. Repertoire and Marketing, BMG

"We're increasingly going toe-to-toe with the more established traditional labels," says Cohen of BMG's success as both a publisher and record label since the launch of the company, in its current incarnation, nearly nine years ago. "BMG launched the same week as Spotify" in October 2008, adds Katz. "We are the only international music company to be born in the streaming age. It's in our DNA." BMG act Nickelback hit No. 5 on the Billboard 200 with Feed the Machine, and as a publisher, BMG had shares of the top five songs on the Billboard Hot 100 dated July 22, including the smash No. 1 "Despacito," co-written by BMG writer Jason "Poo Bear" Boyd.

 

TOMAS COOKMAN, 56
President, Nacional Records; CEO, Industria Works

To transform his "smart, small indie company into a medium-size smart indie company," Cookman last fall brought in new investors to form Industria Works, an umbrella firm for his label, Nacional Records; his publishing and management roster; and for live events, including the Latin Alternative Music Conference. Cookman, who is based in Los Angeles, says Nacional is on target to increase the amount of music it streams 120 percent this year compared with 2016. "It's an exciting time in the Latin market," he says.

 

DANIEL GLASS, 60
President/founder, Glassnote Entertainment Group

CHRIS SCULLY, 50
GM/CFO, Glassnote Entertainment Group

Glassnote celebrates its 10th anniversary in August with Childish Gambino's "Redbone" having reached No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, thanks to the "passion, dedication and tenacity" of the team that has worked the single for the past 12 months, says Glass, a Brooklyn native and father of three. His eponymous company, which brought Mumford & Sons to superstardom in 2015, broke The Strumbellas (No. 1 for two weeks on Alternative Songs with "Spirits") in 2016 and launched Phoenix's "Ti Amo" to alt-rock radio in June. Glassnote's expanding publishing arm, says Scully, will allow repertoire to be "licensed quickly to respond to the new [streaming] marketplace."

Glass (fourth from left) with Glassnote band Phoenix and associates.

Glass (fourth from left) with Glassnote band Phoenix and associates.Courtesy of Daniel Glass

 

JOSH GRUSS, 43
CEO, Round Hill Music

With Round Hill Music, Gruss is helping to bring private equity into the music publishing business, and he invested the company's first $200 million fund into songs by Lennon & McCartney, the Offspring and others. Now, with the company's annual net publisher's share approaching $20 million, Gruss, a Tribeca resident, is raising money for another fund -- which will go toward master recording rights, as well as publishing. "There's more interest in this space," says Gruss, who still plays in the hard rock band Rubikon. "People are expecting a lot of growth."

 

MATT HARMON, 45
President, Beggars Group USA

MARTIN MILLS, 68
Chairman, Beggars Group

PATRICK NORTH, 36
Head, XL Recordings U.S.

Radiohead's decision in 2016 to move its entire catalog worldwide to XL Recordings was a coup for the label, which is co-owned by Beggars Group, one of the globe's most influential indie music companies, with roots in the British punk explosion. But North, in his second year as XL head in America, is equally proud of XL's new artists, including electronic producers Kaytranada, Arca and Powell, who he says are "unequivocally the best at what they do." For Harmon, a high point of the past year for Beggars in the United States was more logistical: The company opened its new 18,000-square-foot headquarters in Manhattan's Soho district. "It quickly has become a creative hub for the label group," he says. Mills, who founded Beggars Banquet Records in London in 1977, is widely considered a godfather of independent music, consistently looking beyond his own company to the collective needs of the indie community. Four decades on, he says, his philosophy hasn't changed. "Do it for the love, not the money," he says, "and the money may follow."

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ANDREW KAUTZ, 48
COO, Big Machine Label Group

BMLG founder Scott Borchetta hired Kautz as one of his first employees when he launched his company in 2005. Although the label group has repeatedly topped the Country Airplay chart in the past year with its powerhouse roster of young acts (Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, Brett Young), Kautz is just as proud of the company's recent chart-toppers from veteran artists Reba McEntire and Rascal Flatts. "It shows you can still climb to No. 1 with the power of a song," says the Michigan native.

 

ROBERT OTT, 53
Co-founder/chairman/CEO, ole

"Majorly indie" is the slogan of ole, which represents writers from rock legend Rush to hitmaker Timbaland. Among the firm's recent successes, Ott cites the cover of "Can't Help Falling in Love" sung by American Idol alumna Haley Reinhart. BBDO chose her version for a viral spot for Wrigley gum -- which drew 78 million Facebook views within a week of its October 2015 release. "On the back of that, we self-released a single and an album of hers," says Ott. "It's a great example of what our company can bring to the table for our artists."

 

JEANNETTE PEREZ, 38
Global President of synch and brand partnerships, Kobalt

LONNY OLINICK, 36
Chief strategy officer, Kobalt

Under Perez, Kobalt not only led independent publishers with nine Super Bowl LI synchs, it beat all but one major, ranking second only to Sony/ATV Music. In the past year, the company has closed over 10,000 licenses worldwide, increasing revenue by double digits, a feat Perez has managed each year since joining Kobalt in 2014. Synch, says Perez, "is the service every client wants or needs, from a revenue perspective and to serve as a marketing tentpole." In his strategic role, Olinick has focused on expanding AWAL, Kobalt's digital distribution and streaming service, and strengthening AMRA, its digital performing-rights organization. "We've built out a service infrastructure that allows artists and rights-holders to stay independent their entire careers, collecting every dollar they're entitled," says Olinick.

 

DARIUS VAN ARMAN, 45
Co-owner/co-founder, Secretly Group

Under Van Arman, Secretly Group found that rare balance of commercial and critical success with Bon Iver's 22, A Million, which bowed at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 with 71,000 units earned in October 2016, according to Nielsen Music. More important, says Van Arman, the father of an infant son, Secretly Group proved with 22, A Million that it has become "one of a few [independent] music companies that can release records worldwide and not rely on licensing partners or a big multinational corporation."

 

LABELS 

FRED CROSHAL
Founder/CEO, Croshal Entertainment Group

Croshal provides management and marketing services for the DIY labels of both developing acts and established stars, including Graham Nash, Bonnie Raitt, Herb Alpert and TLC. The longtime Sony Music executive and former Maverick Records GM, who founded Croshal Entertainment Group in 2003, reports his firm billed 9 percent more in 2016 than in the previous year. As fans of veteran acts discover new digital services, he says, "we are certainly focusing on the streaming platforms more than ever."

 

ANGEL DEL VILLAR, 37
Founder/CEO, Del Records

Angel Del Villar bets on the best in new Mexican music. With stars like Ulices Chaidez and Régulo Caro, Del Records had seven albums debut in the top 10 of the Top Latin Albums chart since January 2016, including Gerardo Ortiz at No. 1 in June. Regional Mexican music is "underestimated" by the music industry, says Del Villar, a native of Mexico who grew up in Los Angeles. To illustrate his point, he describes a recent label promotion that asked fans to upload videos with songs from their favorite Del artists. The campaign generated over 23 million impressions and drew more than 20,000 submissions, says Del Villar.

 

LUIS DEL VILLAR, 38
Founder/CEO, Gerencia 360

There's a reason for that number in the name of Luis Del Villar's label, Gerencia 360. Artists sign all-encompassing 360 deals and are developed in areas like modeling and acting as well as music. Like his brother, Del Records founder Angel Del Villar, Luis controls his label's copyrights, and has signed a roster of bilingual talent that includes Adriel Favela, Jonathan Sanchez and Helen Ochoa. With two top 10 debuts on Top Latin Albums in the past 12 months, Gerencia is looking beyond a regional Mexican base. "Consumers today are all over the world," he says.

 

ROGER GOLD, 47
Co-founder, 300 Entertainment

KEVIN LILES, 49
Co-founder/CEO, 300 Entertainment

In the first weeks of the year, 300 Entertainment had a No. 1 song and album with MigosCulture and "Bad and Boujee," on the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard 200, respectively. "I don't think there's one way to break an artist," says Liles. For Migos, viral memes inspired by "Bad and Boujee" led the song to become the third-most streamed track of 2017 so far, with 679.1 million combined audio and video on-demand streams, according to Nielsen Music. Up next: The trio Cheat Codes is scaling the Hot 100 with "No Promises" (featuring Demi Lovato) after Gold signed the act. "They needed the right partner," he says, "but weren't finding it in the major-label system."

 

ROBERT JOHN
Co-owner/creative head; Megaforce Records, MRI, Palmetto

In a volatile music climate, John points to a constant for Megaforce Records: "the continued success of Anthrax," the veteran metal band, with sales of 3.2 million units during the Nielsen Music era. The group has released the majority of its albums since 1984 on Megaforce, which in 2016 issued its latest, For All Kings. John (whose wife, Missi Callazzo, is chief operating officer of Megaforce's distribution arm, MRI) also notes the success of Third Eye Blind's summer tour, with 10,000 fans at the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, N.Y. "The numbers are crazy," he says, "proving that this band is a rite of passage for young people."

 

ALLEN KOVAC, 62
CEO, Eleven Seven Music Group

Kovac has been an advocate for both his own acts (Mötley Crüe, Papa Roach, Hellyeah) and the broader indie community. His 2016 meetings with Spotify were followed by the streaming giant's hiring of an executive specifically designated as "a funnel for the hundreds of indie labels to be able to get through the Spotify system," says the Manhattan resident. Kovac also has joined those critical of YouTube's payment rates to artists and encouraged talent, including Nikki Sixx, Nelly Furtado and Deborah Harry, to mobilize their fans to call for fairer deals. So far, YouTube hasn't "changed its basic stance" of underpaying artists for video streams, he says.

 

LOUIS POSEN, 46
Founder, Hopeless Records

Hopeless Records act All Time Low achieved gold album certifications in May for 2009's Nothing Personal and 2007's So Wrong It's Right, and Posen says his Van Nuys, Calif.-based label is posed for a "huge release" on Aug. 18 with Neck Deep's The Peace and the Panic. As part of the Hopeless nonprofit offshoot Sub City, Posen, the father of a 10-year-old daughter, this summer presented the first $10,000 grant to be given to "a fan or band who wants to make a difference in the world through music."

Posen (fourth from right) and colleagues with Hopeless Records group Yellowcard in March.

Posen (fourth from right) and colleagues with Hopeless Records group Yellowcard in March.Courtesy of Megan Thompson

 

CHRIS TAYLOR, 51
President, Entertainment One Music

When Taylor was named president of Entertainment One (eOne) Music in February 2016, he moved to shut down the company's physical distribution arm to focus on its record label division, management arm and international reach. "We now have 40 artists under management," says the Windsor, Ontario, native, whose company is based in Toronto. One of those management clients, Arkells, sold out Toronto's 16,000-capacity Budweiser Stage amphitheater in June. "We set the table for the band to achieve that level of ticket sales," says Taylor, "and we haven't hit the ceiling yet for them."

 

BRYAN "BIRDMAN" WILLIAMS, 48 // RONALD "SLIM" WILLIAMS, 49
Co-CEOs, Cash Money Records

Despite a three-year public spat over contract discrepancies with their marquee artist Lil Wayne, the New Orleans-raised, Miami-based Williams brothers have kept Cash Money hot on the charts, two decades after founding the label. Drake's playlist album More Life, released in April, shattered his own record for most U.S. streams in one week, clocking 384.8 million streams for its songs, according to Nielsen Music, and exceeded 1 billion in just three weeks, while Nicki Minaj passed Aretha Franklin's total of 73 for the most Billboard Hot 100 hits by a woman in April. "I like the challenge of being creative," says Birdman of their success. "We've been fortunate enough to just keep putting up big numbers."

Paris Hilton (left) and Bryan “Birdman” Williams in 2015.

Paris Hilton (left) and Bryan “Birdman” Williams in 2015.Courtesy of Birdman

 

PUBLISHERS 

CAROLINE BIENSTOCK, 59
President/CEO, Carlin America

When the Songwriters Hall of Fame bestowed its top publisher award to Caroline Bienstock in June, the moment was poignant. The same honor had been presented in 1996 to her father, Freddy Bienstock, who founded Carlin America -- and named it for his daughter. Working out of the same midtown Manhattan brownstone office once occupied by her dad, Bienstock oversees Carlin's catalog of traditionally classic songs recorded by artists like Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and James Brown. But recently, Carlin signed rising composer-artist Valerie Broussard. Says Bienstock: "The most traditional thing publishers do is develop their writers."

 

GOLNAR KHOSROWSHAHI, 45
President, Reservoir Media Management

Khosrowshahi doesn't have to look back far to cite a highlight of the past year. In June, Reservoir had 12 songs on the Billboard Hot 100, co-written by six of the company's writers: Ali Tamposi, Ina Wroldsen, 2 Chainz, Jamie Hartman and Migos' Offset and Takeoff. The most successful was Migos' "Bad and Boujee," which topped the Hot 100 for three weeks. But her songwriters also have created hits for Kygo (with Selena Gomez) and Calvin Harris. Khosrowshahi, who lived in Iran and Britain before settling in Canada, says Reservoir "has established itself as a creative force fostering opportunities for its songwriters."

 

MARY MEGAN PEER
Deputy CEO, peermusic

RALPH PEER II
Chairman/CEO, peermusic

Peermusic is celebrating its 90th anniversary, and founder Ralph S. Peer -- who recorded Jimmie Rodgers and The Carter Family -- won a posthumous trustees award at the Grammy Awards in February. But the company, a family business over three generations, is going strong, signing of-the-moment writers like The Audibles and growing its net publisher's share, or gross profit, by an average of over 5 percent per year. Much of that growth comes from streaming, where, Ralph Peer II points out, "We don't control pricing." Even so, the publisher's U.S. streaming revenue grew by 25 percent in 2016, according to Mary Megan Peer. "I'd like to see that same level of growth next year," she says.

 

RON PERRY, 38
President, SONGS Music Publishing

MATT PINCUS, 45
Founder/CEO, SONGS Music Publishing

For the first quarter of 2017, SONGS' 4.6 percent share of the top 100 radio songs ranked it sixth among all music publishers. But since SONGS achieved that ranking only with co-publishing pacts and no administration deals (unlike its competitors), "I do feel we punch above our weight class," says Pincus, whose company represents Diplo and The Weeknd. In June, SONGS writer Lorde followed up the blockbuster success of her 2013 debut, Heroine, by debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with sophomore release Melodrama, for which Perry provided A&R guidance. "It has been a three-year process," he says, "so it has been really exciting." Perry's latest find? Florida rapper XXXTentacion, who has gained 1.1 million followers on SoundCloud with tracks such as "Look at Me."

From left: Chromeo’s Patrick Gemayel and David Macklovitch with Pincus in 2015.

From left: Chromeo’s Patrick Gemayel and David Macklovitch with Pincus in 2015.Courtesy of SONGS

 

DAVID RENZER, 57
Chairman/CEO, Spirit Music Group

Promoted in June to CEO of Spirit Music Group, Renzer -- who was mentored by indie-music legend Clive Calder (founder of Jive Records and Zomba Music) -- oversaw the 2016 acquisition of Polar Patrol, whose roster includes Snow Patrol ("Chasing Cars") and songwriter Johnny McDaid. The latter has eight credits on Ed Sheeran's chart-topping ÷, including "Shape of You," which has been streamed 771.5 million times, according to Nielsen Music. In the streaming era, says Renzer, "we're now processing millions of micro-transactions."

From right: Renzer with Universal Music Publishing Group’s Evan Lamberg, artist Aloe Blacc, music attorney Doug Davis and Electronic Arts’ Steve Schnur in 2015.

From right: Renzer with Universal Music Publishing Group’s Evan Lamberg, artist Aloe Blacc, music attorney Doug Davis and Electronic Arts’ Steve Schnur in 2015.Rob Latour/Invision/AP Images

 

JUSTIN SHUKAT, 42
President, Primary Wave Music Publishing

Under Shukat's guidance, Primary Wave -- the publishing home of some 15,000 songs, including the catalogs of Kurt Cobain, Steven Tyler and John Lennon -- struck a partnership in August 2016 with BlackRock Alternative Investors, bringing it $300 million in assets, including licensing rights to the name and likeness of Motown legend Smokey Robinson for $22 million. In April, Primary Wave acquired an equity interest in Rough Trade Publishing for $5 million. But Shukat's biggest challenge and accomplishment of the past year? "Planning and celebrating a bat mitzvah for my daughter," he says.

--

Contributors: Cathy Applefeld Olson, Steve Baltin, Ed Christman, Leila Cobo, Chuck Dauphin, Adrienne Gaffney, Andy Gensler, Andrew Hampp, Steven J. Horowitz, Robert Levine, Geoff Mayfield, Gail Mitchell, Melinda Newman, Paula Parisi, Bryan Reesman, Craig Rosen, Dan Rys, Eric Spitznagel, Andrew Unterberger

This article originally appeared in the August 19 issue of Billboard.

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